The 2020 Annual Report of the Attorney Regulation Advisory Committee to the Arizona Supreme Court listed there were the following disciplinary actions against attorneys licensed in Arizona in 2020:
- Disbarred 8
- Suspended 36
- Reprimanded 24
- Diversion Agreements 122
- Dismissals with Comment 191
As a lawyer, receiving a charge or inquiry letter from the State Bar of Arizona can be a scary thing. After receipt of the inquiry letter, the lawyer must respond to the Bar within the time frame listed within the letter. In 2020 the Bar received 2285 charges with 403 of those referred to investigation for disciplinary review.
Attorney Discipline after Intake Review
However, most of the time an inquiry is initiated after the Bar receives a “complaint” against a lawyer will begin with a call from an Intake Attorney with the Bar’s Lawyer Regulation Department. This Department resolves disputes and investigates allegations of misconduct, incapacity or lack of professionalism. After the intake call the Bar can:
- Dismiss the charge
- Offer Diversion
- Prepare a Written Charge and refer the matter to the Litigation Department
Litigation Department Screening Investigation
The vast majority of charges are concluded in the Intake Department; however, if the charge is not dismissed or resolved via diversion, it will move forward for a screening investigation with the Arizona Bar’s Litigation Department. The Department’s assigned attorney reviews the charge, the lawyer’s response and the gathered evidence. The Bar’s attorney can continue to investigate and obtain additional evidence if desired. The assigned Litigation attorney then creates a Report of Investigation and makes recommendation to conclude the matter. The Litigation Department investigation can conclude via:
If the Litigation Department recommends diversion or discipline the case is submitted to the Attorney Discipline Probable Cause Committee (“ADPCC”). The ADPCC reviews the Litigation Department’s recommendations and can:
- Affirm the Department’s recommendation
- Change the recommendation
- Dismiss the case
- Direct further investigation
If the lawyer under investigation disagrees with the ADPCC decision they have the opportunity to object and demand formal proceedings with the Presiding Disciplinary Judge of the Arizona Supreme Court.
Arizona Unauthorized Practice of Law Investigation
The Arizona Supreme Court has jurisdiction over any person or entity engaged in the authorized or unauthorized practice of law in Arizona via Rule 31 of the Arizona Rules of the Supreme Court. Our Arizona Unauthorized Practice of Law Counsel can assist with all allegations of the unauthorized practical of law. The practice of law is defined as the following:
- Preparing or expressing legal opinions to or for another person or entity;
- Representing a person or entity in a judicial, quasi-judicial, or administrative proceeding, or other formal dispute resolution process such as arbitration or mediation;
- Preparing a document, in any medium, on behalf of a specific person or entity for filing in any court, administrative agency, or tribunal;
- Negotiating legal rights or responsibilities on behalf of a specific person or entity; or
- Preparing a document, in any medium, intended to affect or secure a specific person’s or entity’s legal rights.
The State Bar of Arizona can take action against disbarred or suspended lawyers that continue to practice law or lawyers admitted in other states that are practicing law in Arizona. The Bar can also take action against non-lawyers who are practicing law through expenses, costs and cease and desist orders. Thus those subject to the unauthorized practice of law are:
- Disbarred or suspended lawyers
- Out of State lawyers
The AZ Bar primarily handles the cases involving Arizona lawyers and lawyers from out of state. Non-lawyer cases are usually handled by the Arizona Superior Courts.
Professional License Legal Counsel
If you’re interested in learning more about our Arizona Bar Complaint Attorney services and how to protect your license, set up a consultation with Chelle Law and reach out to us today.